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Monterey Park mass shooter hadn’t been to studio for 5 years; motive still sought, sheriff says

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The man who opened fire in a Monterey Park ballroom on Saturday evening, killing 11 people and wounding nine others celebrating Lunar New Year, had no known recent connection to that ballroom or any of the victims, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Wednesday night, Jan. 25.

  • A Cobray M-11/9 semi-auto pistol, also known as a MAC-11,...

    A Cobray M-11/9 semi-auto pistol, also known as a MAC-11, that was used by Huu Can Tran, the mass shooting suspect who killed 11 people at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. Officials said the weapon was purchased in 1999. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

  • A Savage .308 bolt action rifle that recovered by police...

    A Savage .308 bolt action rifle that recovered by police in the Hemet home of Huu Can Tran, the mass shooting suspect that killed 11 people at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

  • A Norinco 7.62 x25 mm pistol, the handgun used by...

    A Norinco 7.62 x25 mm pistol, the handgun used by Huu Can Tran when he took his own life in a van in Torrance after committing a mass shooting that killed 11 people at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

Luna also said investigators are still looking for a motive for the massacre. And he revealed Monterey Park police have discovered a motorcycle that the suspect seemed to have stashed near the dance studio as an alternative getaway vehicle.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Monterey Park Mass Shooting

The shooter, Huu Can Tran, 72, of Hemet, took his own life after a traffic stop in Torrance in a van he was driving the morning after the mass shooting.

Luna, during a Wednesday night news conference, said investigators have found no proof that Tran had been to the ballroom in the past five years.

“It doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t,” Luna said when asked about the motive.

Addressing Tran’s past, Luna said investigators haven’t found any information to indicate he had been married at the time of the shooting.

“We have not been able to tie him in romantically to any of the victims so far,” Luna said.

Investigators have said that minutes after the Monterey Park shooting, he walked into Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in nearby Alhambra, where police believe he was going to kill others. But a worker there, Brandon Tsay, whose family operates the studio, disarmed Tran and Tran left.

The deadly attack occurred at 10:22 p.m. Saturday at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, in the 100 block of West Garvey Avenue.

Investigators are looking into the circumstances of the weapons Tran was found to be in possession of, particularly a semi-automatic pistol he was believed to have used at the Monterey Park ballroom, where 42 shots were fired. The pistol was described as a Cobray M-11/9, also known as a Mac 10.

“The weapon was not registered in the state of California. It was purchased by the suspect on Feb. 9 of 1999 in the city of Monterey Park,” Luna said.

Sheriff Robert Luna is here showing the weapons recovered from the #MontereyPark suspect. The gun on the far left, purchased in the 90s, was the murder weapon. Sheriffs also found a motorcycle registered to the suspect located just a block away from the scene of the shooting. pic.twitter.com/aYdsFv9fnh

— Emily Holshouser (@emilyytayylor) January 26, 2023

Anyone with information helpful to the investigation was encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Information can be provided anonymously to “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

Staff writer Hunter Lee contributed to this story.

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